It takes exactly eleven “The Wheels on the Bus” to get from Anderson Orchard to my house.
Today I met my little family at the orchard after work for the first of many apple cider slushies and caramel apples. And they’ve recently put in a playground and Elliott literally flipped her lid when she spied that thing from the driveway. Good call, Anderson Orchard, good call.
Afterwards driving home, it was just Ellie and me in my car. She requested to ride with me because I have a CD player and all her CDs. The 1997 minivan has a top-of-the-line tape deck, but, shockingly, we don’t own any kids’ tapes and so she doesn’t get to jam in the van like she can in Mommy’s car. So I understand she just uses me for my music. And I’m mostly okay with that.
As we were heading down Thompson Road, Ellie was yelling, not singing, but yelling, at the top of her lungs the words to “The Wheels on the Bus.” It was a rendition only a mother could love. That poor baby inherited her mother’s singing ability. Sorry, Elliott.
But as I listened to her singing and looked back to see her hand hanging out the window and her fingers wiggling in the air as it rushed by, I was overwhelmed with a need to stop time. I don’t know where it came from, but it came fast and strong.
I want her to stay this way always. Singing loudly because she doesn’t know to be self-conscious of her voice (or lack of). Not caring at all that her shorts were wedged up too high and her chubby little thighs were hanging out. Or that she had caramel smeared across her cheeks.
I don’t know if this is a result of being around kids that have had to grow up too fast. Or have seen too much and are eleven and twelve years old, but haven’t been kids in years. I don’t know if it’s carrying over from last week when one of my students came to school with his face covered with cigarette burns.
I don’t know where these intense emotions came from, but I just looked at the beautiful little girl that I’ve been entrusted with and wished for a way to make things slow down.
And I almost didn’t want to write about this, because I don’t know what to do with these emotions yet. Then I thought if I got them down, it might make more sense.
But I think I’m even more lost than before.
One year for Christmas, when I was a scrapbooking fiend, I made a giant book of memories, pictures, and stories for my mom. It took forever. On the first page, I used a quote that I had found years before and it had always stuck with me.
Making the decision to have children–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elisabeth Stone